Benefits Bulletin


February 13, 2017

Benefits Team


Mindfulness is a simple form of meditation. A typical meditation consists of focusing your attention on your breath as it flows in and out of your body. Through focusing on your breath, you can observe your thoughts as they arise.  Over time, you come to realize that your thoughts come and go on their own accord.
Over time, mindfulness brings about long-term changes in mood, levels of happiness and wellbeing. Scientific studies have shown that mindfulness prevents depression, positively affects the brain patterns underlying day-to-day anxiety, stress, depression and irritability. Other studies have shown that regular meditators spend fewer days in hospital, their memory improves, creativity increases and reaction times become faster

Many people remain wary when they hear the word ‘meditation’. The fact is: anyone can practice mindfulness.  You can start off with a daily 2 or 3 minute practice.  After a few weeks, if you see value in it, you can increase the time you spend.  There are smartphone apps that provide guided meditations of varying lengths; the Calm app (https://www.calm.com/) is one.

Meditation helps cultivate a deep and compassionate awareness that allows you to assess your goals and find the optimum path towards realizing your deepest values.  It is about seeing the world with greater clarity so that you can take wiser and more considered action to change those things which need to be changed.

The Basics of Mindfulness Practice

Here’s how to tune into mindfulness throughout the day:

  1. Set aside some time. You don’t need a meditation cushion or bench, or any sort of special equipment to access your mindfulness skills—but you do need to set aside some time and space.

  2. Observe the present moment as it is. The aim of mindfulness is not quieting the mind, or attempting to achieve a state of eternal calm. The goal is simple: we’re aiming to pay attention to the present moment, without judgment. Easier said than done, of course.

  3. Let your judgments roll by. When we notice judgments arise during our practice, make a mental note of them and let them pass.

  4. Return to observing the present moment as it is. Our minds often get carried away in thought. That’s why mindfulness is the practice of returning, again and again, to the present moment.

  5. Be kind to your wandering mind. Don’t judge yourself for whatever thoughts crop up, just practice recognizing when your mind has wandered off, and gently bring it back.

That’s the practice. It’s often said that it’s very simple, but it’s not necessarily easy. The work is to just keep doing it. Results will accrue.

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